Bridge is a partnership game using a standard deck of 52 cards dealt equally among four players. The players bid in a coded language to describe their hands to their partners and then play to make their contract. Generally, one suit is determined as “trump,” leading to the expression, “Play your trump card.” Duplicate contract bridge, in which each competitor or team plays identical hands under similar conditions, is the main form of competitive bridge. The primary goal of members of the ACBL is to achieve the rank of Life Master, requiring 300 masterpoints earned at club and tournament games.
The history of Bridge traces its origins to the British game of Whist, first played in the 16th century. It may be named for the Galata Bridge in Istanbul, which British soldiers crossed during the Crimean War of the 19th century to reach a coffeehouse where they played cards. Contract bridge as we know it today began in the 1920s when Harold Vanderbilt came up with the early scoring system.
The American Contract Bridge League was founded in 1937. Today it is the largest bridge organization in the world, with more than 160,000 members living in the United States, Canada, Mexico and Bermuda. A not-for-profit organization, the ACBL determines internationally recognized rules of bridge, sanctions clubs and tournament games, and encourages participation at all levels of proficiency and experience.
Research studies by Dr Christopher Shaw of Carlinville Illinois showed that students who learn to bid and play bridge score better on standard Iowa tests. When asked why, Dr. Shaw said he believed it was their development of inferential analysis, something that can’t be taught. The studies were carried out with 100 peer students over a three year period during which 15 were taught to learn and play Bridge and the other 85 were not. Over that 36 month period, the students took standard Iowa proficiency tests each year and the rate of acceleration in improvement in all academic studies grew faster by the students who learned and played bridge.
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